This is of course a very short and incomplete list of books dealing with the Great War. I can however vouch for each of them as being interesting in some manner or another. Many of the books published during or immediately after the war are now out of print of course. They may however sometimes still be found in libraries or in secondhand bookshops, especially those catering to specialized military subjects. There are also a number of good on-line bookdealers in Great War publications as well as on-line auctions that from to time offer books and magazines.
A number of books pubished during and on the Great War that are now public domain can also be freely downloaded at the Gutenberg Project website. There is a list of titles of complete downloadable books lower down on this page.There are also several dozens of excerpts from these and other titles available for downloading.
A special bibliography of American Related War Books can be found in this link.
There were litterally hundreds of specialized war-related magazines published during the war, some printing almost nothing but illustrative material. The titles and scans of representative pages and covers of a small number of these publications can be found in the section on Publishing and the Newsmedia.
Please also visit the following site for information on dustjackets of Great War books: Great War Dustjackets
Period Great War Books
- Titles by E. Alexander Powell and Philip Gibbs
- Two Outstanding Great War Authors
E. Alexander Powell : FIGHTING IN FLANDERS (1914) - William Heinemann London
Undoubtedly one of the best written and adventurous memoirs about the early days of the war in Belgium. Comical and yet unashamedly heroic, veteran war-journalist E. Alexander Powell along with his sidekick photographer Donald Thompson is present in Belgium from the beginning of the war til the fall of Antwerp in October 1914. Good descriptions of the Siege of Antwerp and encounters with the German army. Gives a first-hand account of the first-ever aerial bombardement of a city. Describes encounters with young Winston Churchill and German generals. Photographer Thompson took many of the now famous photos of events during the siege of Antwerp. This book was one of the first books published on battles and events of the war during the war itself. It was also one of the first best-sellers, going through numerous translations and print-runs in many countries.
Reads like a boy-scout adventure, yet very factual and accurate in his descriptions of places and events. Many photos by Donald Thompson in the book.
Free tip for Hollywood producers, this book is almost custom made for a movie script : laughs and tears galore, high adventure, battles and intrigue, comic relief, dastardly villains, heroic fights and last-minute escapes, heroines and reckless loveable sidekicks, well-known historical figures and more action than you can shake a stick at. And all historically true as well.
This book can to be found as an illustrated webpage via this link - Fighting in Flanders. It can also be downloaded as a txt file via this link : 'Fighting in Flanders txt'.
E. Alexander Powell : VIVE LA FRANCE (1916) - William Heinemann London
Another book by American veteran war-correspondant Powell. As the title suggests, this is an unashamedly pro-Allied book. Powell describes conditions on the British battle front as well as in various French sectors such as the Alsace, Vosges and Champagne fronts in 1915. Yet even though there is no mistaking where his personal sympathies lie, the author is far too professional a reporter to let unsubstantiated tall tales or rumors play a part in his writing. Just as in 'Fighting in Flanders', there can be no doubt that Powell witnessed all that he writes about. The book is factual and descriptive, and since it describes events and conditions in 1915 when the war was still relatively young, he goes out of his way to present his readers with a clear and understandable description of how the war was being fought in the trenches and in the air, a then quite novel field of battle about which no doubt, many misconceptions existed at the time. The book contains many original photographs which are not to be found in other publications. First class writing all round.
Part of this book can be found in the following sections : 'Evacuating French Wounded' / 'Conflict in the Clouds' / 'An American Journalist on the Alsace Front' / Fighting in Champagne
The full book can be downloaded as a txt file via this link : 'Vive la France'
E. Alexander Powell : ITALY AT WAR (1917) - William Heinemann London
A third war-time book by American journalist E. Alexander Powell. Though called 'Italy at War', besides devoting almost half of its pages to describing the situation on the Italian front, the book also contains chapters on the fighting at Verdun, the British army in France, the Belgian army on the Yser front and an interesting piece on the Russian contingent fighting in the Champagne in France. The book is a collection of magazine articles written by the author and published in book form in the very succesful 'the War on All Fronts' series. This series also included titles by Edith Wharton (see below for 'Fighting France') and John Reed.
Parts of this book can be found as illustrated webpages via the following links : An American Journalist on the Italian Front / An American Reporter Visits the Russians in France / An American Journalist on the Yser Front 1917 / An American Journalist on the French Front in 1916 / A Description of the 'New Contemptible Little Army'
E. Alexander Powell : SLANTING LINES OF STEEL (1933)
Essentially this book is a rewriting of Mr. Powell's Great War adventures in Belgium, France, Italy and in the American army. Though he wrote about all these events in his previous war-time books, in this inter-bellum publication, he gives more lengthy descriptions, adds names of fellow journalists to his story and is much more generous in supplying details and insights. For anyone who enjoyed 'Fighting in Flanders', 'Vive la France!' or 'Italy at War', this book is a must-read. And just as in his other war books, Mr. Powell is a master at mingling tragedy and the horrors of war with high farce and comedy.
Philip Gibbs : THE SOUL OF THE WAR (1915) - William Heinemann London
A pre-war best-selling author and journalist, Philipp Gibbs was one of the most outstanding British war-time reporters and writers. His writing is serene and bereft of any adventurous spirit. This is a very comtemplative book, ahead of its time in that he recognized the gigantic scale of the struggle taking place and the inevitable unintended changes it would impose upon the warring nations.
Like many reporters in the opening months of the war, Philip Gibbs and his companions seemed to posses the knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, following armies across northern France in the vain hope of being on hand to witness battle. He never really succeeded during the first year, aside from joining a British volunteer ambulance service on the Ypres front in late 1914. But while other reporters unashamedly spruced up their reporting, dramatizing and glorifying small insignificant incidents and passing occurences of no import, Gibbs knew how to talk to soldiers coming from the front lines, how to convey their thoughts and fears and vividly describe their battle experiences. Gibbs was a very serious writer, and extremely proficient at his trade. He knew how to get to the esssence of things, to describe the feel of the times, the general attitude, and the hopes and fears of both fighting men and civilians. Not only is this voluminous book a brilliantly written commentary, it is also infused with an inner sadness that could well be considered a precursor to the post-war 'lost generation' myth, which is yet another indicator at how well Gibbs could gage the feel of the times and assess its impact on future developments in society.
In this first book of his, he tells of his wanderings with two fellow journalists during the first year of the war, as he tried (in vain) to witness the fighting in France. His observations, descriptions and opinions are however well worth reading, they are accurate, insightful and to the point. He gives detailed descriptions of both British and French soldiers and includes an incredibly atmospheric portrait of Paris during the opening months of the war as well as a moving account of his time spent with the British Field Hospital in Furnes. (also see book : 'Surgeon in Belgium') After being arrested on general principles by the British authorities as a nuisance and potential loose-lipped journalist, he was afterwards appointed one of the few officially accredited journalists attached to the British forces on the Western front. Thereafter Gibbs continued filing dispatches till the end of hostilities. His writing is heartely sympathetic to the common soldier and war-time refugees, but quite critical to those in power. After the war he was knighted for his valuable patriotic services and enjoyed a distinguished career as novelist and writer.
He served yet again as accredited reporter during the opening months of the Second World War, being billeted in the same areas in France as during the Great War. After the evacuation of the BEF in 1940 he was sent to the United States to work for the ministry of Information. His son followed in his footsteps, taking up the profession of war reporter for the British press.
Aside from the four titles discussed here, Philip Gibbs also wrote several autobiographies. In two of them he tells extensively about his experiences in the Great War. The first is called 'Adventures in Journalism', the second, is titled 'the Pageant of the Years'.
Parts of this excellent book and other writings by Philip Gibbs are to be found as illustrated webpages in the sections on the 'Siege of Antwerp' - The Soul of the War / 'Paris at War 1' / Paris at War 2 / A British Reporter at Furnes / 'English Volunteer Hospital' /The Coming of the Tanks / The Great March Offensive of 1918 / Soldiers of France / The Men in Khaki / The Story of the Zouave
- The full book can be downloaded as a txt file via this link: 'Soul of the War txt.'
- A number of excerpts from contemporary press reviews can be viewed via this link: 'Press Reviews'
Philip Gibbs : NOW IT CAN BE TOLD / REALITIES OF WAR
This immediate post-war book recounts the further war-time experiences of Philip Gibbs as accredited journalist with the British forces on the Western front. Somewhat more fixed on happenings and events and less on the overall type of reflection that so characterized his previous 'Soul of the War', this book is probably one of the first publications responsible for creating the 'Lost Generation' myth of the 1920's. The futility of warfare and the incompetance of military leaders are among the main themes running throughout the book. The author was plainly less than enamoured of the staff officers attached to G.H.Q. far behind the lines. It doesn't need much thought to see how Gibb's descriptions later cristalized into the stereotyped characters populating the comical televison series, 'Blackadder Goes Forth' - the utterly incompetant general, the toadying staff officer, the bright-eyed volunteer junior officer. But of course none of this books' descriptions were meant to be taken comically in any way at all. In fact, after witnessing at first-hand four years of combat on the British sector of the Western front, the book is permeated by a sense of utter sadness and despair, even more so than Gibb's first war-time memoir 'the Soul of the War'.
Both of Philip Gibbs books are first-rate writing: vivid, eerily suggestive of death and suffering accompanied by an exaltation of the herioism, gallantry and incredible dedication to duty displayed on the part of lower officers and other ranks. A sadness of the soul permeates the writing of these publications, two books that are arguably amongst the most influential and thoughtful books to have been published in English during the war or immediately afterwards.
This book was published under the title 'Realities of War' in Great Britain, and under the different title of 'Now It Can Be Told' in the United States. Only the titles are dissimilar, the contents is the same in both books.
Excerpts from this book can be viewed via these links : 'A British Reporter Visits Vermelles' / A British Reporter Visits Ypres in 1915
A full version of this book as a txt file can be downloaded via this link: "Now It Can Be Told txt.'
Philip Gibbs : THE BATTLES OF THE SOMME (1917)
Published in 1917 during the war, this book is essentially a collection of Philip Gibb's official dispatches and articles written during the summer of 1916, when he witnessed the battles of the Somme area at first-hand as accredited British war correspondent. Unlike 'Soul of the War' and 'Now It Can Be Told', this book consists of descriptions and accounts written immediately after the action had taken place. With little time for reflection or introspective analysis, Gibbs wrote down his impressions and notes, often at night and in a state of exhaustion. Detailed and written at first-hand, his accounts are replete with the bravery and good-cheer of the British soldier.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links: A British Reporter Describes the First Day of the Somme / The German Side of the Somme
Philip Gibbs : FROM BAPAUME TO PASSCHENDAELE (1918)
Just as with 'Battles of the Somme', this book is a collection of newspaper articles and dispatches written by Philip Gibbs during the year 1917 for his employers at the 'Daily Chronicle'.
Authors in Alphabetical Order
Aldrich, Mildred : A HILLTOP ON THE MARNE (1915)
The author, an elderly American lady, Mildred Aldrich, was a former journalist and literary editor, who lived in a farmhouse in a French village not far from the battlefields of the Marne. Undecided of mind whether to flee the Germans or remain in her home, circumstances and a stubborn mind led her to stay at home and witness at first hand some of the great events at the Marne in 1914. The book is a collection of vividly written and no doubt well-edited letters written by the author to her American acquaintance, Gertrude Stein. In these letters, she tells of the situation in France and Paris in July, August and September of 1914. In writing to an overseas friend, the author needed to be precise and explanatory in her letters, a tendency which helps modern day readers better understand the situation in 1914.
While litte actual fighting or combat is described in the book, the author did extensively encounter and billet British army units and conduct lengthy conversations with officers and other ranks. Her understanding of the local French populace is also noteworthy and well worth reading. This book was such a success that the author later published three more books during the Great War, all written in a similar manner. After the war, she was awarded the 'Légion d'Honneur' in 1922, in recognition by the French government of her valuable literary contribution in helping persuade American public opinion of the rightousness of its cause.
This book can be downloaded in its entirety at either the Gutenberg Project. site, via this weblink as an ilustrated webpage at : A Hilltop on the Marne or else a simple txt file at 'A Hilltop on the Marne txt'
Aldrich, Mildred : ON THE EDGE OF THE WAR-ZONE (1917)
This is a second war-time book of edited letters by Mildred Aldrich written to Gertrude Stein, describing her observations of life just behind the front lines in a small village near the Marne, north of Paris. This book covers the period from September 16th, 1914 up to April 8th, 1917. Essenstially the author describes the aftermath of the battle of the Marne, the war-time situation in Paris and her home village of Huiry and later the experiences and hopes of civilians hearing about the fighting at Verdun in 1916. The book ends upon the entrance of the United States to the war in April, 1917.
Parts of the book can be seen as an illustrated webpage via this link : Visiting the Marne Battlefields in December 1914 / Trip from a Village on the Marne to Paris in 1915 / A Soldier's Theatrical Performance
The full book can be downloaded as a txt file via this link: 'On the Edge of the War Zone txt'
Aldrich, Mildred : THE PEAK OF THE LOAD (1918)
The third war-time book of edited letters by Mildred Aldrich describing her observations of life just behind the front lines. This book covers the period from April 1917 up to July 1918.
Parts of this book can be viewed via the following links : 'Paris in 1918 - Fleeing the Germans / 4th of July 1918' / Trip to Versailles in 1917 / A Trip to Paris on Valentine's Day 1918
The full book can be downloaded as a txt file via this link: 'The Peak of the Load'
Anonymous (translated by J. Koettgen) : A GERMAN DESERTER'S WAR EXPERIENCE (1917)
This book tells the story of a German soldier who deserted to Holland and fled to America. He gives accounts of fighting in Belgium and France during the early days of the war, the battle of the Marne and warfare in northern France in 1915. Great emphasis is laid on the more horrific aspects of warfare as practiced by the German army, so much so that at times the book borders on being a mere instrument of propaganda rather than a true eye-witness account.
Part of this book can be downloaded via the link 'A German Soldier's Story' or else a complete txt file can be downloaded via this link : 'A German Deserter's Story'
Ashton, Harold : FIRST FROM THE FRONT (1914)
Harold Ashton was a war correspondent for the British newspaper 'the Daily News'. During the early months of the war he toured northern France in search of news from the front-lines or failing that, interesting human-interest stories regarding the war. This book is a collection of his writings and as was so often the case at that time during the war, most of them centered around Paris and events in the vicinity.
A .txt file can be downloaded via this link : 'First from the Front'
Barnard, Charles Inman : PARIS WAR DAYS - DIARY OF AN AMERICAN (1914)
Charles Barnard was a former journalist for an American newspaper, residing in Paris at the outbreak of war. This book is a simple, yet detailed and well-written diary of events pertaining to the war and the situation in Paris during the whole of August and the first half of September 1914. The immediacy of his observations makes for a quite different take on the early events in Paris and France. Naturally being so close on events, a fair amount of rumor and gossip ends up being recounted, but at the same time his descriptions are more than likely quite accurate and in tune with the feel of the times. Aside from being a diary of events in Paris and France, the author also provides a day by day notation of weather conditions in Paris, an at first glance odd, but interesting addition to a diary of war-time events.
A webpage version of the complete book can be viewed at the following link : Paris War Days
Beauchamp, Pat : FANNY GOES TO WAR (1919)
The author was one of the early volunteers for the F.A.N.Y corps (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry). In this delightful and detailed memoir, she tells of her war-time experiences in France.
Parts of this book have can be viewed as illustrated webpages via these links : Fanny Goes to War / Fanny Goes to Paris on Leave. The complete text can be downloaded as a .txt file via this link 'F.A.N.Y.'
Belmont, Captain F. : A CRUSADER OF FRANCE (1917)
This is an English translation from a French book which was comprised of the (edited) letters of a French captain in the Chasseurs Alpins. It was not at all unusual for soldiers of the Great War to be inverterate letter-writers to family and friends. Many wrote long, detailed and often moving accounts of their war-time experiences, this indeed being one way of coping with the long forced seperation from home and loved ones.
Captain F. Belmont was killed in action in December 1915. Afterwards his letters were edited and published in France, being exceptionally well-written and moving. In his writings home, he tells of his experiences as a medical officer in the Chasseurs Alpins on various fronts in 1914 and 1915 - the Vosges, the Flanders front and in Picardy, near Arras.
A full text of this book can be viewed as an illustrated webpage via the following link: 'Crusader of France'
Bennet, Arnold : OVER THERE (1915)
This short but well-written book was authored by American novelist and playwright Arnold Bennet. Clearly an admirer of the Entente cause, in six chapters he tells of his trip from Paris to the battlefields of the Marne, the British front-lines and the Belgian city of Ypres.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links - Ypres - the Unique City / The Zone of Paris / An American Novelist Visits British Trenches in 1915 / The Ruins of Rheims and Arras / An American Journalist Visits French Trenches in 1915 part 1 / An American Journalist Visits French Trenches in 1915 part 2
A simple txt file can be downloaded via the following link - 'Over There'
Brittain, Harry E. : TO VERDUN FROM THE SOMME (1916)
A short book from 1916 by an American reporter who travelled from Paris to the Somme and Verdun battlefields. Making several side-trips to places such as Rheims, Bar-le-Duc and visiting the Russian contingent in France and British commander Sir Douglas Haig, the author gives well-written and vivid descriptions of what he experienced on and behind the battle-lines
Excerpts from this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : Rheims in 1916 / A Canadian Reporter Visits Verdun / A Canadian Reporter Visits the Somme
The complete book can be downloaded as a zipped .txt file via the following link : To Verdun from the Somme
Burke, Kathleen : THE WHITE ROAD TO VERDUN (1916)
Katleen Burke was a prominent figure in American relief organizations working in France. Befitting her status, she was allowed to make a trip to the frontline city of Verdun during 1916, being incidently the first female non-combatant allowed to do so. Clearly an admirer of France, she describes her journey from Paris to Verdun and Rheims in short and sometimes simple but nevertheless moving chapters. Covering a variety of subjects, the author writes about French soldiers, their general attitude and comportment, about anecdotes and observations encountered along the route, about her meetings with famous military figures such as generals Nivelle and Pétain and about the situation in Verdun and Rheims.
Clearly an admirer of the Entente cause and of most things French, her account is fresh, moving and entertaining, as well as charmingly patriotic and heartfelt.
An illustrated webpage version can be viewed via the following link - The White Road to Verdun or else a simple txt version can be downladed via this link - 'The White Road to Verdun'
Buswell, Leslie : AMBULANCE NO. 10 (1915)
An inspirational book of letters written by an American volunteer amubulance driver serving in France on the Lorraine front in 1915. The writer tells of his experiences behind the front-lines, evacuating wounded French soldiers, of life in a French village and of friendship and comradeship among the volunteer drivers. The book is clearly intended to be promotional in raising funds and volunteers for the American Ambulance Field Service.
The book can be downloaded as a webpage via this link : 'Ambulance No. 10' or as txt file via this link : 'Ambulance No. 10'
Carillo, Gomez : AMONG THE RUINS (1915) translated by Florence Simmonds
This is a translated book authored by a well-known Spanish journalist. Mr. Carillo describes his visits to the battlefields of the Marne and the Aisne, to the cathedral of Reims, to general Joffre and to various other parts of the front in late 1914 and early 1915. Though a citizen of neutral Spain, it is quite plain where the author's sympathies lie. In a somewhat exhuberant and flamboyant style, Mr. Carillo sings the praises of France and the righteousness of her cause. Though somewhat high-flung in litterary style, the book is a more than interesting collection of chapters on the war as seen through the eyes of an otherwise neutral correspondent.
Several newspaper articles by Mr. Carillo for the British press can be accessed via the following links : A Spanish Impression of the British Front / A Spanish Journalist on French and British Brotherhood
- Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : Among the Ruins - by a Spanish Correspondent / General Joffre - a Spanish Journalist's View / German Prisoners in French Hands/ A Spanish Journalist in Rheims / General Joffre - a Spanish Journalist's View / A Spanisah Reporter in French Front-line Trenches / A Spanish Journalist Visits Chalons, Lorraine, Verdun and the Argonne / The French Soldier Seen by a Spanish Journalist / The Battefield of Nancy and the Fort du Troyon / Chasseurs Alpins Described by a Spanish Journalist / A Spanish Journalist at Pont-a-Mousson
In Spanish : Entre las Ruinas del Marne
Clarke, M. E. : PARIS WAITS (1915)
An interesting book devoted to describing the situation in northern France and in Paris in particular, during the first months of the war, until December 1914. Insightful and thoughtful, the author is obviously well acquainted with the French temperment and manner of life. Also contains chapters on the battlefields of the Marne and an odd aside on the resurgence of religious and apocalyptic prophecies.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : 1914 Paris Waits 1 / 1914 Paris Waits 2 / 1914 Paris Waits 3 / 1914 Paris Waits 4
An illustrated webpage version of the entire book can be viewed via this link 'Paris Waits 1914' and the entire book can be downloaded as a .txt file via this weblink : 'Paris Waits txt'
Cobb, Irvin S. : PATHS OF GLORY (1915)
Like many American journalists covering the war in 1914 and 1915, Irvin Cobb was able to view events and travel on both sides of the battle lines. Adhering to a more or less strict neutrality in his writing while expressing sympathy for the sufferings of Belgian and French civilians, Cobb was allowed many facilities by German authorities and travelled extensively on the German front in late 1914 and early 1915. He wrote pieces on the destruction of Louvain, the German trenches at Rheims, about an escapade in an observation balloon, visits to German front-line trenches and hospital clearing-stations as well as an extraordinary piece on the destruction of the French fortress of Maubeuge.
Despite the title, the book has nothing in common with the 1965 movie by Stanley Kubrick of the same name.
Parts of this book can be viewed via the following links : Louvain the Forsaken / An American Journalist in a German Observation Balloon / An American Reporter Visits the Forts at Maubeuge / The German Trenches at Rheims / An American Journalist in Belgium, 1914 / An American Journalist Visits Fort Loncin
The whole book can be downloaded at either the Gutenberg Project. site or as a .txt file via this link : 'Paths of Glory'
Coleman, Frederic : FROM MONS TO YPRES WITH GENERAL FRENCH (1917)
Author Frederic Coleman was an American volunteer with the British forces from August 1914 til the summer of 1915. As a member of the Royal Automobile Club, he put his motor-car at the disposal of the British Expeditionary Force and was afterwards attached to general French's headquarters for 10 months. He gives very well written detailed accounts of his time under fire with the British Army, ending his book with descriptions of the first fighting around Ypres and the Christmas Truce of December 1914.
Parts of his book can be found in the section on 'Christmas in the Trenches 1914, part 2' / 'the Winning of the Marne' / Fighting on the Aisne in 1914
Curtin, Thomas D. : THE LAND OF DEEPENING SHADOW (1917)
This is a book written by an American journalist who spent several years in war-time Germany. Quite serious in tone and somewhat less interested in purely military matters, the author is obviously quite critical to the German cause in general and leaves no doubts about the matter. He devotes a large part of the book on domestic German matters, discussing the mood of German citizens, especially the poorer classes, the manner of rule in regions such as Alsace-Lorraine and Bohemia, how German wounded are received at home, the condition of prisoner-of-war camps and so on.
Parts of this book are to be found as illustrated webpages via the following links : The Iron Hand in Alsace-Lorraine / German Wounded Brought Home from the Somme / Tommy in Germany / An American Journalist in East Prussia, 1914
Davis, Richard Harding : WITH THE ALLIES (1914) - Charles Schribner's Sons New York
One of America's best paid and most famous journalists at the time, Mr. Davis left for Europe on August 4th and arrived in time to witness the aftermath of the destruction of Louvain in Belgium. Narrowly missed being executed as a 'spy' by the Germans after adventures roaming around Belgium in search of a battle. In France he travelled extensively behind the front. He gives good descriptions of the situation in France and Belgium, though as was common with so many of the early war-time accounts, his book keeps to the time honored style of 'high-adventure' writing, exagerrating a bit here and there for the sake of drama. This book was rushed into publication, just in time for the Christmas shopping season of 1914, much as Mr. Powell's book 'Fighting in Flanders'.
Mr. Davis, 52 years old, died in 1916 during war-time. See the following link for an obituary from a French magazine : Sur la Mort du Journalist Américain Richard Harding Davis
Parts of this book are to be found in the following links : 'With the Allies : Paris in War Time' / The Burning of Louvain / Richard Harding Davis on War Reporters / An American Journalist Visits Rheims / 'Brussels in August 1914'
The full book can be downloaded as a .txt file via this link: 'With the Allies txt'
Dawson, Coningsby : THE GLORY OF THE TRENCHES (1918)
Conceived while convalescing from wounds in a London hospital, this short but moving memoir was written by a Canadian volunteer. He tells of his experiences in the trenches in the Vimy area, as well as of the period immediately prior to his enlistment. In this book there are a number of original poems by the author and lyrics to popular soldier's songs.
The full book can be viewed as an illustrated webpage via this link : 'The Glory of the Trenches'
Fortesque, Granville : AT THE FRONT WITH THREE ARMIES (1915) - Andrew Melrose Ltd. London
The subtitle of this book says it yet again : 'My Adventures in the Great War'. Granville Fortesque was a well-paid journalist working for the Hearst Syndicate and though graced with a name like a character from a W.C. Fields movie, he possessed the fabled but yet rare journalistic knack and the military insight of more than often being in the right place at the right time. As one of the few English-language journalists to do so, he witnessed the early fighting around Liege, Namur and Dinant, then travelled to Germany and afterwards back to France and Belgium, just in time to be on hand for the fall of Antwerp. He was present in Ostend before, during and after the German occupation of this harbor city, travelling up and down the North Sea coast through the battle-lines in autumn of 1914 without hindrance. Mr. Fortesque managed to be on hand during many of the war's early dramatic events, events which many of his more experienced colleagues missed out on, making his book into a more than interesting memoir.
An article by Granville Fortesque on the Turkish side of the Dardanelles taken from a French newsmagazine : Les Dardanelles Vues du Coté Turc par un Américain (French text)
Parts of this book are to be found via the following weblinks: At the Front with Three Armies : Antwerp / At the Front with Three Armies' : Liége / 'At the Front with Three Armies' : Namur / 'At the Front with Three Armies' : DInant / The Bombardment of Rheims / An American Journalist in Germany and Occupied Belgium / From Antwerp to the Yser Front / An American Reporter on the Marne Battlefields / An American Reporter on the Mons Battlefields
Fox, Edward Lyell : BEHIND THE SCENES IN WARRING GERMANY (1915)
Most of the English language books written during the war were unashamedly pro-Allied in tone and content. Yet America remained neutral till 1917 and many American journalists and reporters visited Germany during that time and wrote accounts for newspapers, magazines and books. The author relates of his visits to both Western and Eastern fronts, as well as visits to German prisoner-of-war camps and an interview with Field Marshall von Hindenburg.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : An American Journalist Visits with Marshall von Hindenburg / An American Journalist on the Eastern Front in 1915 / American Red Cross Doctor on the Eastern Front / An American Journalist Visits German Trenches part 1 / An American Journalist Visits German Trenches part 2 /
Freeman, Lewis R. : MANY FRONTS (1918)
This book is essentialy a compilation of war-time magazine articles dealing with the fighting on various fronts around the world. Aside from more unusual writing on the Mesopotamian campaign, the war in the Alps and Serbia, there are various articles on escaping British prisoners, aeroplane adventures and Zeppelin exploits.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links: The Fight for the Garden of Eden / The Garibaldi Fight Again for Freedom / 'Zepp's' over London / Sharks of the Air - Zeppelins over Britain / The Passing of a Zeppelin / Fighting for Serbia / Blowing Up the Castelletto / Wonders of the Teleferica
A full text of this book can be downloaded via this link: 'Many Fronts'
Friedrich, Ernst : KRIEGE AM KRIEGE 2 volumes (1924)
The original and unsurpassed pacifist's book showing the horrors of warfare. This book is a collection of photos, mostly from private donations by Great War veterans, that was meant to vividly illustrate the horrible suffering imposed by the war. There are many candid photos of corpses, mutilated and wounded soldiers and animals, along with photos of executions, hospital patients and civilian victims.
The book was originally published in 1924 in 2 volumes, but later a single volume version was published as well. Translated into 50 odd languages and (re-)printed a countless number of times up till the present day. The book was intended to be freely published by all and sundry intent on agitating against warfare, long before the Free Underground Press Syndicate of the 1960's.
Many of the later post WW II editions are fascimile printings and are hence somewhat reduced in graphic quality, but often have the added attraction of being forseen with extensive and interesting historical notes and introductions.
A remarkable book for its photographic content. Not for the lighthearted. A number of the less horrific photographs can been seen via this link : 'Anti-war Books of the 1920s'
Genevoix, Maurice : 'NEATH VERDUN (1916)
An original French language book translated into English, the book tells of the war-time experiences of the author, an officer in the French cavalry, in August and September 1914. During those two months, his unit was located in various locations to the north, south and east of the great fortress city of Verdun, always in the thick of furious fighting. The author later wrote 3 more volumes about his war-time exploits, all 4 becoming classics. This first volume is an action-packed account of war. There is no or little sentimentality or patriotism in the pages, mainly descriptions of combat during the first months of the war.
a webpage with the full text of this book can be viewed via this link : 'Neath Verdun - Fighting on the Eastern Marches 1914
Gerard James W. : MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY (1918)
The author was American ambassador to Germany from 1913 to 1917, up till declaration of war between the two countries. During the first years of war, ambassador Gerard looked after the interests of several Entente countries, visiting prisoner-of-war camps and internment centers for enemy civilians. Moving in high government circles, he was able to comment upon German policy from a sometimes more informed position than other writers.
Part of this book can be viewed via the following link : 'Prisoners of War in Germany'
de Gerlache de Goméry : BELGIUM IN WAR-TIME (1915)
Written by the internationally famous Belgian Antarctic explorer of pre-war fame, this book was one of the many publications which was meant to influence international, and especially American public opinion, in Belgium's favor. Essentially it is long and sad summation of the atrocities committed by German troops and officers in Belgium during the initial months of the war. Essentially it is a factual and accepted version of events, if a somewhat understandably slanted account in terms of emotionality.
Excerpts from this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : Belgium in War-Time - Atrocities Described /
Gibson, Hugh : A DIPLOMATIC DIARY (1917)
Hugh Gibson was Secretary of the American Legation in Brussels when war broke out in August 1914. He kept a diary of events during his stay in Belgium, and after American declaration of war in 1917, published an edited version of the first year's happenings.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : 'Nurse Cavell' and 'An American Diplomat Describes the First Zeppelin Attack' / A Visit to the Haelen Battlefield
A complete text of this book can be downloaded via the following link : 'Diplomatic Diary'. The complete text of this book can be viewed as an illustrated webpage via the following link : 'A Diplomatic Diary Illustrated'
Gleason, Arthur : GOLDEN LADS (1916)
Arthur Gleason was an American social worker and volunteer ambulance driver, who early in the war, went to Belgium and France with his wife. In this book he describes his observations of conditions in Belgium and France in 1914 and of his experiences with soldiers, civilians, newsmen and medical personnel. His wife also contributed a thoughtful and wise chapter on a woman's view of the war while serving with a volunteer hospital on the Yser front (* see also Cellar-House at Pervijse)
Parts of this book can been viewed via the following links : Filming Street-Fighting in Alost, September 1914 / Women Under Fire - Observations / How War Seems to a Woman - by an American Ambulance Driver / The Fusiliers Marins / In Praise of Cigarettes / An American Social Worker's Views on Belgium in 1916 / The Wreckage of Termonde and Melle / Flies - a Fantasy
Gleason, Arthur : OUR PART OF THE WAR (1916)
This book is more or less the same as 'Golden Lads' in regards to subject matter, though overall less is written about conditions in Belgium. Writings by Arthur Gleason from this book can be viewed via the following links : The American Ambulance Hospital in Paris / The American Ambulance Field Service in the Vosges and Verdun / Soeur Julie of Gerbevillier / The Little Corporal : 14 year-old French Soldier
Gosse, Philip : MEMOIRES OF A CAMP-FOLLOWER (1934)
Although written some time after the war's end, this account is very detailed, vivid and no doubt because of the passing the years, also a somewhat mellow and contemplative story of the author's (mis)adventures during the Great War. The author was a Medical Officer and was therefore allowed more freedom in his movements, though he saw his share of hardships and misery. Yet for all of the war's well known hardships and tribulations, Gosse cannot resist recounting events in a comical and ironic light. He had the distinction of being appointed official 'Rat-Officer' to the British Army, because of the (ill) renown due to his peace-time hobby of catching, stuffing and mounting small animals. He was stationed in both the Somme, Armentieres and Ypres sectors, and later in the war was transferred to British India, far removed from the fighting, but not from the cock-ups of army command.
His hilarical account as 'Rat Officer' can be found via the link : 'Memoires of a Pied-Piper on the Western Front'. Recommended comical reading.
Green, Horace : THE LOG OF A NON-COMBATANT (1915)
The author was an American journalist who viewed at first-hand the siege and fall of Antwerp in September-October 1914. A lively and engrossing eye-witness account, it meshes very well with other memoirs of the fighting in Belgium in 1914, mentioning several reporters the author encountered during his travels, such as Arthur Ruhl and Donald Thompson. '
The part on the siege of Antwerp may be viewed as an illustrated webpage at the following link : The Log of a Noncombatant or else downloaded in its entirety at either the Gutenberg Project. site or as a .txt file via this link : 'Log of a Non-Combattant'.
Hall, James Norman : KITCHENER'S MOB (1916)
This book tells the adventures of an American who joined up with the British army early in the war. Comically and affectionately written, often in a phonetically spelled British accent, the author tells of his training and departure to the trenches in France, of life in the British front lines and of his participation in the battle of Loos in September 1915.
- An illustrated webpage version can be viewed via this link : "Kitchener's Mob' / Kitchener's Mob 2' / Kitchener's Mob 3'
- A txt version can be downloaded at this link : 'Kitchener's Mob txt'
Hill, William Thompson : THE MARTYRDOM OF NURSE CAVELL (1915)
This book is something more akin to a long pamphlet or tract. It is essentially a story of her life and a somewhat propagandistic version of her trial and execution. Written almost immediately after the sad events, the author makes full use of the understandable indignation over Miss Cavell's execution, to slip in several slanted versions of occurences as well as a number of outright fabrications, all for the best of intentions of course when viewed through the eyes of British war-time propaganda.
A webpage version of this booklet can be viewed via the following link : 'The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell'.
A .txt file can be downloaded via the following link : 'Martyrdom of Miss Cavell.txt'
Hindenburg von, Marshall Erich : OUT OF MY LIFE (1920)
This is the English language translation of Marshall von Hindenburg's memoirs of his military career. It is not clear whether this volumous book was written by the field-marshall himself or with extensive help from others, in any case it is a very detailed, but dry and uninspiring account. It would appear that as one of the main figures waging the war for the Central Powers, for von Hindenburg military activities consisted of little more than moving vast bodies of troops and supplies across landscapes and railroads and placing them in the correct positions to meet the enemy. He writes of little else with hardly a personal observation to be found anywhere in the hundreds of pages, not even anything of a patriotic nature.
On the other hand, since most of his Great War career was spent on the Eastern front, one does come to understand how vastly large an area the war encompassed, of the great distances and natural obstacles involved.
As an interesting prelude, von Hindenburg tells of his youth and military education prior to the Great War. It is with a sense of historical atemporality that one realizes that his career in warfare started during the Prusso-Danish, Prusso-Austrian and Franco-Prussian wars of the 1860's and 1870, conflicts akin in time and placement to the American Civil War, and yet he was to be one of the supreme war-leaders in the 20th century's most formative war.
Parts of this book can be viewed as webpages via the following links : The Memoirs of Marshall von Hindenburg part 1 /
Hirschfeld, Magnus : SITTENGESCHICHTE DES WELTKRIEGES - 2 volumes (1930)
A vast compilation work on a varied collection of odd and at times naughty subjects having to do with the Great World War and morality. The book is profusely illustrated with an eclectic and impressive number of otherwise difficult to find and unusual photos, drawings, illustrations, prints and doodles originally belonging to the Berlin Institute for Sexual Research. Subject matter pertains to mores and morals, spying, love in war-time, prostitution, inter-racial relations, outrages, atrocties, executions, women at war, amateur theatricals, cross-dressing, trench graffitti, latrine humor, homosexuality and many other odd and at times comical subjects.
Yet even though the illustrative material in these two volumes is quite superb in quantity as well as in quality, Hirschfeld's writing itself is somewhat mean-spirited and morose, if not to say condescending and very moralistically dissapproving, especially of those he perceives as belonging to the lower or working classes. Like a nasty-minded schoolteacher, Hirschfeld has the knack of expressly interpreting almost every and any moral, social, sexual or erotic situation in the worst possible light, attributing base and foul motives to otherwise innocent occurences and conditions. On top of that, his overall attitude towards the female sex in general is quite derogative and misogynistic to say the least. While his prejudices may simply be a result of prevailing contemporary class attitudes and generalizations, all in all he does not attribute any redeeming qualities to the feminine gender and characterizes them as wily, deceiving, unsteadfast, readily corruptible, irrational and prone to hysterics and unrational behavior (all this as opposed to the perceived otherwise laudable straightforwardness of men in general). A very uncharitable approach to an otherwise extremely interesting subject matter.
The illustrative material is on the other hand at times quite light-hearted and humoristic and was compiled from a varied number of sources, quite often from private collections as well as from war-time magazines and publications. Magnus Hirschfeld was later signalled out for vilification by the National Socialist Party and prudently left Germany before 1933. The archives of the Berlin Institute for Sexual Research had the dubious distinction of being the object of one of the first public book-burnings.
An English language edition of this book was published in 1934, minus the illustrations.
Kipling, Rudyard : FRANCE AT WAR - (1915)
'France at War - On the Frontiers of Civilization' is rather short book of several dozen vignettes describing various aspects of the war in France as seen by Mr. Kipling during his visit to the battle front in 1915. As the sub-title announces, the book is an obvious apologetic publication defending France's, and by extension Great Britain's, position as being foremost in the fight to preserve civilization in Europe. The descriptions of the front and of soldiers and civilians are otherwise quite business-like, devoid of any high-blown rhetoric or grand assertions on right or wrong. In a calm and detached manner the author sets out his experiences and observations, which in his opinion are argument enough for the rightousness of the Entente cause.
The complete book can be viewed as an illustrated webpage via this link : Mr. Rudyard Kipling on the War in France
Kreisler, Fritz : FOUR WEEKS IN THE TRENCHES (1915)
An unusual memoir written in English, this book tells the account of Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler, who spent the early months of the war in the Austro-Hungarian army and saw combat action on the Eastern front in Galicia before being wounded and invalided out of service. It is a highly personal account, but engrossing and different in tone, as well as in setting, from many other books written about the Great War at the time.
This book can be downloaded in its entirety at either the Gutenberg Project. site, via this weblink as an ilustrated webpage : 'Four Weeks in the Trenches' or else as a simple txt file at 'Four Weeks in the Trenches in txt.'
Lauder, Harry : A MINSTREL IN FRANCE (1918)
Harry Lauder was an internationally known Scots entertainer, balladeer, poet and performer. Upon outbreak of war in August 1914, he was in Australia on a world-tour. Returning to Britain via the USA, he paid for recruiting bands out of his own pocket and spoke on many public occasions and performances, urging men to join the colors. His own son, John Lauder, went off to war and was killed in France in December 1916. Afterwards, Mr. Lauder went to the front and gave many performances for the troops, visiting front-line trenches and famous landmarks and battlefields.
His book of war-time memoirs is written in a phonetic Scots accent, speckled with widely understood Scots terms and words, much as he used himself in his songs and performances. Far from being contrived, it gives the book a personal touch. The memoir is permeated by an inner sadness for the death of Mr. Lauder's only son on the battlefields of France. And yet in spite of his loss, the tone in the book is always patriotic and inspiring, albeit melancholy and sad due to a personal understanding of the tragedies of war.
Part of this book can viewed as an illustrated webpage via this link : A Scots Minstrel Visits Vimy Ridge
The entire book can be downloaded via this link : 'A Minstrel in France'
Lawrence, T. E. : THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM
The classic account of the Arab Revolt by one of the 20th century's true war-time heroes. A sometimes poetic, scholarly, factual and very serious book it has remained in print up to date, not without reason. Though tangential to the Great War (Lawrence's fight was the original 'sideshow of a sideshow') the book gives a remakably clear picture of the Middle East before 1918 and decribes desert guerilla warfare as well as Bedouin ethnic customs and life-style.
This remarkable book is not to be confused with the 1962 movie on T.E. Lawrence in any shape, way or form.
Mack, Louise : A WOMEN'S EXPERIENCE IN THE GREAT WAR (1915)
Louise Mack was already a well-known Australian author when war broke out in 1914 and as so many other writers, she wanted to see the fighting before it would all be over. Wisely choosing Belgium as her destination, the relatively lax government restrictions on the activities of reporters gave her many opportunities in the field. Among others, she travelled to German occupied Brussels to interview burgomaster Max as well as being on-hand to witness the final dramatic days of the siege and bombardment of Antwerp in October 1914. Daringly for a British subject, non-combattant nonetheless, she remained in Antwerp for several days after the German take-over, mainly one suspects, to be able to show her male colleagues that she was made of stern stuff indeed. And undoubtedly she was, for few if any Entente subjects were still in the city at that time. And so she was on-hand, abeit in disguise, to view and write about the German entry into the city from eye-witness experience.
A wonderful read all round, if the at times over-blown patriotic sentiments about Belgian patriotism are best taken with a grain of salt.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links : In Antwerp during and after the Siege / Burgomaster Adolphe Max of Brussels / Belgian Refugees in Holland
The full book can be downloaded as a zipfile via the following link : 'A Women's Experience in the Great War'
Mackenzie, Donald A. : FROM ALL THE FRONTS (1917)
This is a British book for adolescents, containing a number of more or less patriotically inspirational chapters on various Allied war leaders, war-time events and heroics and various odds-and-ends of military lore.
Parts of this book can viewed as illustrated webpages via the links : Emilienne Moreau - the Lady of Loos / British Hospital in Macedonia / Dogs and Wildlife in the Trenches / Raids on Winter Nights
Miller, Francis Trevelyan (Editor) : TRUE STORIES OF THE GREAT WAR in 6 VOLUMES (1918)
The 6 volumes contain several hundred short stories and excerpts from published books on the Great War. By 1918, many fine and interesting books of memoirs and accounts had already been published in English. By selling a collection of what was essentially a very cheap and affordable promotional publication, it was hoped that sales of the full length books would profit as well. The 6 volumes were sold in the United States via a nation-wide advertising program in magazines and newspapers.
There are so many different stories and memoirs in these 6 volumes that it is of course difficult to make any generalized appraisal, but whatever their respective litterary merits, all the excerpts and short stories cover a wide variety of subject matter and writing styles. For anyone wishing to judge the worth and merit of a Great War publication, it is well advised to see if an excerpt can be found in any of the 6 volumes of this publication.
See above for advertisement of this series.
Mitton, G. E. : THE CELLAR-HOUSE AT PERVIJSE (1917)
The work of female volunteer nurses in the front lines during the war captured the imagination of readers around the world. The story of the two British nurses, Mairi Chisholm and Mrs. Knocker who joined Doctor Munro's British Field Hospital in the first months of the war, was one of the best known at the time. Stationed on the Belgian lines on the Yser front near Pervijse, these two heroic ladies worked tirelessly and continuously in aiding wounded from the battlefields. Exempted from a general order banning women from the front-line areas, both were decorated by King Albert. Mrs. Knocker married a Belgian baron during the war. The ladies were something of a media sensation at the time, photogenic, well-spoken and educated and thoroughly dedicated to the well-being of the wounded.
This book is a rendition of their notes and journals by a third party author. It contains many photographs. A contemporary magazine article can be viewed via this link, 'Cellar House at Pervijse' an illustrated webpage version of the book can be vewed via this link : 'Cellar House in Pervijse.htm' and a .txt file can be downloaded via this link : 'Cellar-House txt'.
(*see also : How War Seems to a Woman - by an American Ambulance Driver for memoirs of a fellow female volunteer at Pervijse)
Mokveld L. : THE GERMAN FURY IN BELGIUM (1915)
Dutch journalist Mokveld was sent by the newspaper 'De Tijd' to cover events in Belgium in 1914. As a Dutch citizen, the author was allowed a relative freedom of movement in both occupied and non-occupied parts of Belgium, though due to circumstances he did most of his travelling on foot, a slow bur sure manner of getting to his destinations. Like many journalists at the time, Mr. Mokveld was forced to scramble after events had already taken place, such as the burning of Visé or Louvain and Aerschot, but once on the spot he did his best to gather facts in as objective a manner as possible and present them to his readers and the public in a clear and understandable fashion. In this he succeeded admirably, though at times it did contradict official German reports and versions of events. It is also obvious from his writing that he was quite sympatheic to the plight of the Belgian civilian population.
The book was translated into several languages, an English language translation among them.
An illustrated webpage version can be viewed via the following link : 'The German Fury in Belgium' / A .txt version can be downloaded via the following link : 'German Fury by Mokveld'
Northcliffe, Lord : AT THE WAR (1916)
Lord Northcliffe was a self-made media tycoon whose life story almost reads like a British Horatio Alger story. Very influential in politics as well as journalism, he was very critical of the British government's waging of the war during the first years of this great conflict. This was not from pacifistic motives, but rather from a fierce and sincere patriotism coupled to an everyday pragmatic approach to getting things done efficiently. He was influential in bringing down the Asquith war government due to the famous 'shell shortage scandal' and (one might might say as a reward) was brought into the Lloyd George government as Minister of Information.
In this book are collected a number of widely varying articles on many aspects of the war, quite often very interesting subjects that other writers seldom, if ever address. One can speculate to what degree this book was actually written by Lord Northcliffe himself, and not by any of the innumerable journalists at his instant command. Nonetheless, it has the virture of being singularly original and factually very informative in its approach to war writing.
The full text can be downloaded via the following link : 'At The War'
O'Connor, V. C. Scott : THE SCENE OF THE WAR (1917)
A successful pre-war travel writer, the author writes about his voyages and visits to various fronts and areas of the war - Greece, Italy, France, the Mediterranean, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Many of his destinations are somewhat unusual but intriguing. Sadly it is here that his obviously justified fame as a traveller to exotic places comes to the forefront, for the reader is not given much in the way of things military, but is rather treated to somewhat classically inspired descriptions of landscapes and cities.
However his accounts of visits to the fighting areas in France - the Somme front, Reims, Arras, Senlis, the Marne battlefields - are first rate writing and stand up well to other Great War books.
Excerpts from this book can be viewed as webpages via the following links : A British Writer Visits the French Front on the Somme -1916 / A British Writer Visits Rheims - 1916 / A Quiet Day in the Argonne - 1916 /
The full text can be downloaded via this link : 'Scene of the War'
Palmer, Frederick : MY YEAR OF THE WAR (1915) - John Murray London
Account of a veteran American journalist's travels and observations during the first year of the war. Well written, though without the 'high-adventure boy-scouts at war' spirit which characterized so many other early war-time accounts.
Parts of this book are to be found in the section on In Paris - 1914 / After the Marne - An American Journalist's Story / Winter in Lorraine / An American Reporter with the Canadians / British Manpower Discussion / An American Reporter at Neuve Chapelle in 1915
The full book can be downloaded via this link: 'My Year of the War txt'
Palmer, Frederick : MY SECOND YEAR OF THE WAR (1916)
As the title states, this book is a continuation of the author's war-time experiences as an American reporter.
Palmer, Frederick : AMERICA IN FRANCE (1918)
A third war-time book by Frederick Palmer, this tells of American involvement.
Pirenne, Jacques : LES VAINQUEURS DE L'YSER (1917 - French language text)
A French language book written by Belgian author Jacques Pirenne, volunteer and brother to reknowned historian Henri Pirenne, profusely illustrated by Belgian artist James Thiriar. Published while the while the war was still long undecided, this is a moving and heart-felt description of the daily life and experiences of Belgian soldiers on and behind the front lines on the Yser front. Bereft of any pretentions of evoking patriotic feelings in readers, the author doesn't even try to pretend that notions such as 'glory' or 'duty' have any place in the world of the Belgian soldier, but that even so, all Belgian combattants are just as doggedly determed to see out the war and drive the German invader from their homeland as any other Allied soldier.
An illustrated webpage version can be viewed via the following link : Les Vainqueurs de l'Yser, or else the entire book can be downloaded as a .txt file via this link : 'Vainqueurs'
Reed, John : THE WAR IN EASTERN EUROPE (1916)
John Reed (1887-1920) was a well-known, gifted American journalist with leftist, progressive sympathies. He is best known for having written 'Ten Days That Shook the World', an ideologically sympathetic account of the Russian Bolshevist revolution of 1917 as well as having accompanied Pancho Villa in Mexico in 1914. He is also known for being portrayed as main character in the 1981 film 'Reds'.
In 1915, John Reed undertook a hazardous attempt to report on the state of the war in eastern Europe. By way of Serbia, then in the grip of a typhoid epidemic, he and his companion, illustrator Boardman Robinson travelled the battle-lines in Serbia, crossed into Russia via then still neutral Rumania, moving ahead of the retreating Russian armies in Galicia and Poland. He ended up in Petrograd, Bucharest and finally Constantinople.
In spite of being a well-written atmospheric travelogue of sorts, with poetic insights into the Russian way of life, Reed, like many other eager reporters before him, did not really manage to view much fighting or clashes of armies, mighty or small. Instead he seems to have travelled, somewhat despondantly throughout eastern Europe, depressed at the lack of revolutionary vigor among the civilian population and annoyed at the seemingly omnipresent multitude of jewish inhabitants everywhere. It is not quite clear what his thoughts on the last were, but it is certain that in a modern book, they would not pass muster. He does however give colorful views of the lack of organization and surfeit of confusion in the Russian imperial armies and of the haughty disdain displayed by many Russian officers towards the common soldier.
The book was published in 1916 in the series 'The War on All Fronts'.
Excerpts can be viewed as a webpage via the following link : An American Reporter Behind the Russian Front/ An American Journalist in Serbia
Ruhl, Arthur : ANTWERP TO GALLIPOLI. (1916)
Arthur Ruhl was a veteran American journalist. Sent to Europe to cover the war, he worked for magazines such as 'Collier's' and reported on many of the dramatic events of the first few years. He was present in Paris and northern France in 1914, reported at first hand on the siege of Antwerp, and being a neutral he was allowed to visit Germany and Austria, from where he made extensive tours of the eastern front during the great Galician summer offensive of 1915. Somewhat remarkably for a western reporter, he was also present on the Turkish side during the Dardanelles campaign and wrote many fascinating accounts of his observations.
This book is a collection of 16 magazine articles written by Arthur Ruhl on the above theaters of war. Extremely well-written and insightful, they give a variety of standpoints from both Entente and Central Powers points of view.
Parts of this book can viewed in the following links : After the Marne - an American Journalist's Story / An American Journalist Visits Austro-Hungarian Hospitals / An American Journalist on the Galician Front / The Fall of Antwerp / An Americain Journalist with the Turks at Gallipoli
The whole book can be downloaded at either the Gutenberg Project. site or as a .txt file via this link : Antwerp to Gallipoli
Another article by Arthur Ruhl, written for 'Collier's', can be viewed via this link: 'Making Staff Officers for the American Expeditionary Force'
Sheahan, Henry : A VOLUNTEER POILU (1916)
This books recounts the war-time memoires of a volunteer Irish-American amubulance driver in France. Like many young men of his generation, Mr. Sheahan went to France before American entry into the war to help the injured and wounded. He was assigned to various sectors of the front and tells with detail about his experiences at Pont-à-Mousson and the Bois-le-Pretre sector as well as at Verdun. Well written with insightful remarks about the fighting qualities of the French poilu.
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links: The Great Swathe of the Lines / In the Bois-le-Pretre / An American Ambulance Driver at Verdun 1916 / Messieurs les Poilus / In a Paris Hospital in 1915 / An American Volunteer Poilu
The complete book can downloaded via this link: 'A Volunteer Poilu'
Spencer, Carita : WAR SCENES I SHALL NEVER FORGET (1916)
This short book was written by an American lady active in charity work to support French, Belgian and Italian soldiers before American entry into the war. Profits from the book were intended to finance relief work. In short chapters the author describes meetings with the Queen of the Belgians in la Panne, with Belgian military and civilian medical officers and refugee workers, with French and Italian soldiers and describes the situation in Venice.
Though short and obviously pro-Entente in sentiment, the book is a moving account of a charity worker's trip to the front-lines on the Western and Italian fronts.
Parts of this book can be viewed as an illustrated webpage via this link - War Scenes in Belgium or else as a simple txt file via the following link - 'War Scenes I Shall Never Forget'
Souttar, Henry Sessions : A SURGEON IN BELGIUM (1915) - Edward Arnold London
A factual, adventurous and compassionate account of the British Field Hospital in Belgium during the years 1914-15 written by one of the head surgeons. The first part describes the role the British Field Hospital played during the siege of Antwerp. Well observed descriptions of the situation during the fighting up to the heroic escape to the Belgian coast after the fall of Antwerp. The second part of the book describes the early fighting and care of wounded behind the Belgian front lines on the Yser in late 1914 and early 1915. There are a number of original photos in this book.
- Parts of this book are to be found in the section on the 'Siege of Antwerp : A Surgeon in Belgium'.
- Or else it can be downloaded in its entirety at either the Gutenberg Project. site or via this weblink : 'Surgeon in Belgium'
Stephens, Winifred (editor) : THE BOOK OF FRANCE (1915)
This book is a bi-lingual collection of essays, memoirs, poems, short plays and writings on the the Great War. Published in aid to the French parliamentary committee's fund for the relief of the invaded departments, it was mainly a vehicle for anti-German and pro-French propaganda of the more intellectual kind. The contributions were by renowned and vaunted French writers and thinkers such as Maurice Barrés, André Gide, Anaotole France, Pierre Loti and others, while the English translations were done equally renowned British or American writers such as Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Lady Churchill and others.
Not so much a collection of factual writings, the essays generally served to reinforce existing preconceptions of national characteristics, sullying what were thought to be Teutonic virtues. Other essays and pieces were no more than nationalistic propaganda while several others were mood pieces, setting the stage for the evocation of heroic and praiseworthy (French) virtues.
Taken as a whole this collection is probabaly quite representative of general thinking and ideas on the virtues and antipathies of German national character traits, early in the war.
The complete book (minus a short play and poem) can be downloaded via this link: 'Book of France'
Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links: The Saints of France / The Ghost of a Cathedral / The Background of a Victory /
In French - Les Saints de la France / La Basilique-Fantôme / Les Coulisses d'une Grande Bataille
Washburn, Stanley: FIELD NOTES FROM THE RUSSIAN FRONT (1915)
As a counterpoint to the rather flat and dry account given in his book 'Victory in Defeat', this earlier book is a collection of personal experiences and first-hand observations of conditions on the Russian front in 1914 and early 1915. The subject matter is varied and is more directed to human-interest stories. Finished in February of 1915, when the war had barely begun, this book of course views military events up til then from an entirely different perspective and ever so much more optimistically from an Entente point of view. In spite of being proved wrong in his predictions by later events in Russia, Washburn's writing is still worth reading for the wealth of first-hand detail which he provides about the life of the common soldier on the Eastern front.
The book is profusely illustrated with spendid photographs by Washburn's accompanying photographer, Georges H. Mewes.
- Parts of this book can be viewed as illustrated webpages via the following links: A Religious Service on the Field of Battle / A Night Attack in a Snow-Storm / A Visit to the Russian Trenches / On the Warsaw Front 1914 /
- The full text of this book can be downloaded via this link: 'Field Notes from the Russian Front'
Washburn, Stanley: VICTORY IN DEFEAT (1916)
M. Washburn was special war correspondent of the "Times" with the Russian armies in 1915, and as such was present on the Eastern front during the fighting in 1915. He witnessed the Russian retreat in the summer of that year as well as the fall of Warsaw. This particular book of his is more concerned with st